About Us
Write for Us
Media Info
Advertising Info
Mainstream media

It May be Nit-picking but is the News Monkeying with Our Mental Health?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008 by: Al G Smith
Tags: mainstream media, health news, Natural News

Most Viewed Articles

(NewsTarget) Not that I want to sound as if I am a 'nit-picker' but it is sad that Homo sapiens appear to have acquired such a jaundiced view of the world that they can no longer see the beauty and innocence of Nature. In this respect it was troubling, if unsurprising, to see the spin that was recently put on a study of long-tailed macaques undertaken by a researcher at a Singapore University.

Today's news media seem interested only in bad news or titillation. If both characteristics can be twisted out of an otherwise heartening story then news editors are even happier, it appears. Presumably the theory is that if a purely positive report can be turned into 'naughty news' then it will draw more attention from readers. There are some things in this observation that demand further thought.

But first to provide a brief resume of the macaque's story. It came to pass recently that Agence France Press (AFP) reported on a New Scientist magazine's article about the study of macaques, which actually took place in Indonesia. Details of this coverage were then quickly relayed by 'Yahoo! News' to an even wider audience.

Michael Gumert, a researcher from Nanyang Technological University, studied interactions in long-tailed macaques communities for some 20-months. During this time it became evident that a female monkey would normally engage in sexual congress about every 40 minutes. However, if a male macaque undertook to groom a female helping to pick her clean of nits and such like, the frequency of copulation rose dramatically. Typically the female mated as often as 3.5 times every hour, more than two times the average regularity. In most cases the chosen partner was the male who had been doing the grooming.

The research indicated that when no other females were around, a male might need to groom for up to sixteen minutes before the female would submit to any carnal intentions. However, when greater numbers of females were around, the typical length of grooming prior to mating shrank to as little as eight minutes.

Appraisals of these interesting observations were subsequently perverted to the needs of the news media as being indicative of the macaques "paying for sex". This was likened to the supposedly "oldest profession on earth" amongst humans: prostitution. There was talk of "market forces" and "transactions", of males "buying" females by paying them such attention. A further observation forthcoming from another learned academic related the macaque's behaviour to the "well known mix" of economics and sex prevalent in human society.

So it seemed that even the natural activity of macaque monkey's demonstrating a proclivity to prefer a mate who demonstrates care and attention was twisted to titillate the public's desire for the lascivious. Perhaps there was even an underlying hint of justification for our human species's failure to live up to moral standards that only we are capable of setting, comprehending and applying.

It seems perfectly natural that in circumstances where there is greater competition to acquire the best mate (for example, one most likely to father caring and affectionate offspring), that a decision to engage in procreative activity might occur more readily. It also seems unpalatable that such observations of the wonders of nature's most basic 'motivating force' amongst simple primates should be contrived to bolster excuses for humanities own lack of moral scruples.

Some important issues belie this minor news story that warrant more than a moment's contemplation, for example, the following rhetorical questions are posed:

* Why is it that the demonstration of care and attention in the natural activity of other species cannot be taken for the positive exemplar that it evidently is?

* Why is it that Homo sapiens are apparently obsessed with the lascivious, the lewd, the aberrant and the immoral - not for learning what not to do, but apparently for vicarious enjoyment or crude amusement?

* Why is it that we have arrived at an era when there seems to be no other news but 'bad news' or, at the least, negatively oriented news?

* Why is it that we seem so readily to fail to draw the most obvious lessons from nature, yet easily use what we observe to justify our own unnatural behavior?

Whatever the answer to these questions, perhaps the most important issue arising from this analysis is the fact that we constantly surround ourselves with negative or lurid news. The atmosphere this creates may well be at the root cause of many of the problems to which both the individual and society at large is currently prone.

Human health is dependent upon a combination of factors. Essentially these relate to creating a positive physical and psychological environment. We can create a better physical environment by breathing fresh unpolluted air, drinking pure water and choosing safe and nutritious foods. A healthy psychological environment involves developing and maintaining positive patterns of thinking.

Indeed it is no secret that there is mounting evidence to support the fact that cultivating positive thoughts is integral both to truly good health and success in life. Yet we 'choose' to immerse ourselves in the daily mire of bad news from all forms of media. And when the 'really bad' news fails then there is always the sordid, the lascivious and similar tasteless topics to sate our endlessly morbid curiosity.

Many a hard-bitten journalist will most likely explain that there are few sales to be made selling good news. This hardly seems reason enough for the newspapers, radio, TV and now the Internet to pile on the agony. It is indisputable that levels of depression in many parts of the world are escalating. Little wonder when we are 'beset by dismal stories', as the old hymn has it, against which too many choose 'valium' over valiance!

Perhaps the human pre-occupation with the seedy, the sordid, the bad and the ugly may all stem from one root frustration. A frustration we could learn to overcome by drawing on another lesson from the maligned macaques. That is this: If we too were 'doing it' 3.5 times an hour, we wouldn't have time even to bother about the news. But seriously, when was the last time you gave your 'loved-one' 8 (let alone 16!) solid minutes of special, focused attention. Without 'nit-picking', even if this led to a much smaller increase in the frequency of human love-making it might well lead to a huge improvement in positive thinking all round. Which could only be 'good news'!

About the author

Al G Smith MSc BSc - Has been working and teaching in the food related sector for over 30 years and is currently a website publisher (http://www.gonaturalandorganic.com) and Independent Representative for the World's first extensive range of Certified Organic skin care and cosmetics (http://www.saferalternative.com).

Receive Our Free Email Newsletter

Get independent news alerts on natural cures, food lab tests, cannabis medicine, science, robotics, drones, privacy and more.

comments powered by Disqus

Natural News Wire (Sponsored Content)

Science News & Studies
Medicine News and Information
Food News & Studies
Health News & Studies
Herbs News & Information
Pollution News & Studies
Cancer News & Studies
Climate News & Studies
Survival News & Information
Gear News & Information
News covering technology, stocks, hackers, and more